Vatican City

Trial of pope's ex-butler to start September 29

IT expert also faces charges of aiding and abetting

Trial of pope's ex-butler to start September 29

(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 17 - The trial of Pope Benedict XVI's former butler Paolo Gabriele for being in illegal possession of confidential Church documents will start on September 29, the Vatican City's court said on Monday. A Vatican IT expert, Claudio Sciarpelletti, will also go on trial for alleged involvement. Gabriele was arrested in May following probes into the leaking of sensitive Vatican documents to the media in a case that was dubbed 'VatiLeaks'. The Vatican's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said a pool of accredited journalists would be able to attend the trial but photographers and TV cameras would not. When the pair were indicted in August, Lombardi said Sciarpelletti's alleged involvement in the case was far less serious than Gabriele's. Gabriele is charged with aggravated theft while Sciarpelletti is accused of aiding and abetting. Gabriele is currently under house arrest after spending two months in a Vatican cell following his May 25 arrest, which shocked the Catholic world. Vatican experts and the media have speculated that the butler is a pawn in a power struggle between cardinals, with many suggesting Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the pope's right-hand man, is the intended target. The Holy See has denied this and Bertone has accused some parts of the media of trying to play Dan Brown in their reporting of the case, saying they were guilty of "inventing tales and peddling legends". The leaked documents included letters to the pope and Bertone from the Holy See's ambassador in Washington, Carlo Maria Vigano', who was deputy governor of Vatican City at the time they were written. The letters contained allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City. Benedict is said to be baffled by the case. "The pope has asked himself many times, with distress, for an explanation about the motive for the gesture of Paolo Gabriele, who he loved like a son," Bertone told Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana in June. A further 20 suspects could come under the scrutiny of Vatican magistrates investigating the Vatileaks case, well-placed Vatican sources told ANSA last month.

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